Missionary doctrinal statement rated top news story of 2002
January 10 2003 by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press

Missionary doctrinal statement rated top news story of 2002 | Friday, Jan. 10, 2003
  • The words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance were deemed unconstitutional;
  • A tax break for clergy housing expenses became law;
  • Kidnapped missionary Martin Burnham was killed in the Philippines; and
  • Legendary Dallas, Texas pastor W.A. Criswell died.

    On the state level, denominational politics and gambling issues dominated the year's news. Among the top stories in several state conventions:

    Alabama - Video gambling was ruled illegal after years of debate and confusion.

    Louisiana - The Louisiana Baptist Convention's executive board transferred control over the hiring and firing of associational directors from the state convention to the associations themselves.

    Although member churches in each association now control those positions, they are still funded by the state convention.

    New Mexico - In May, forest fires that spread across the Southwest caused damage to the camp owned by the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

    Tennessee - Despite opposition by Tennessee Baptists, a referendum to allow a state-operated lottery passed.

    Virginia - In a special meeting in May, the Baptist General Association of Virginia endorsed a new strategy called Kingdom Advance.

  • Friday, Jan. 10, 2003

    Missionary doctrinal statement rated top news story of 2002

    By Greg Warner Associated Baptist Press

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The International Mission Board's (IMB) requirement that all 5,100 of its missionaries sign an affirmation of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) new confession of faith was rated the top news story of 2002 by Baptist editors.

    IMB president Jerry Rankin issued the mandate in January, reversing an earlier decision. Missionaries were asked to sign an affirmation of the 2000 version of the "Baptist Faith and Message" statement or list their objections to it. Supporters said the move was necessary to assure Southern Baptists and the board's trustees that their missionaries are doctrinally sound. Opponents said the signing requirement made the confession into a creed.

    By year's end, more than 30 missionaries had resigned rather than endorse the revised faith statement. Others are waiting to hear the IMB's response to their objections. But most missionaries complied.

    In an informal survey by Associated Baptist Press, editors of Baptist newspapers overwhelmingly chose the IMB action as the top story of the year. News of the terrorist shooting of three missionaries in Yemen came too late in the year to be considered. But other denominational issues and world affairs made the list. Here's a summary:

    1. Missionary doctrine - IMB asked missionaries to affirm 2000 "Baptist Faith & Message" statement.

    2. D.C. dispute - The SBC's North American Mission Board (NAMB) decided to end the cooperative agreement with District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC). NAMB, which has provided nearly $500,000 annually to the DCBC, sought to gain greater accountability from the D.C. convention. DCBC executive director Jeffrey Haggray called the proposal an "ultimatum" that violated the convention's autonomy.

    3. New Missouri convention - Moderate Baptists launched the new Baptist General Convention of Missouri in response to conservative dominance of the traditional Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). The MBC also filed lawsuits against five agencies that severed ties with the convention.

    4. Texas Baptist mission plan - The Baptist General Convention of Texas launched a new missions network and established a "rescue" fund for IMB missionaries who resign or are fired over the issue of the 2000 "Baptist Faith and Message."

    5. Catholic sex scandal - Sex-abuse allegations among priests rocked the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in Boston, where Cardinal Bernard Law eventually resigned.

    6. Vines and Mohammed - Former SBC president Jerry Vines of Jacksonville, Fla., called Mohammed a "demon-possessed pedophile" during a June sermon before the Southern Baptist Convention, launching a storm of criticism.

    7. War - The ongoing war against Al-Qaida and possible war with Iraq heightened Christian-Muslim tensions even further.

    8. Faith-based initiatives - Legislation to authorize faith-based social initiatives failed in Congress, but President Bush later issued an executive order enacting similar provisions.

    9. BWA and CBF - The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) agreed in July to consider the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) for membership, over the objection of Southern Baptists.

    10. Baptist Foundation of Arizona - A $217 million settlement was reached in the lawsuit against the embattled accounting firm of Arthur Andersen for its role in the collapse of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. The collapse cost more than 13,000 investors an estimated $570 million. Criminal charges were later filed against foundation executives.

    Other prominent national stories of 2002 that received notice from editors:

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    1/10/2003 12:00:00 AM by Greg Warner , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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